A well-written query letter can make all the difference in getting your manuscript noticed by literary agents and publishers.
That’s why I often recommend using the Hook Book Cook formula to structure your letter.
In this blog post, I’ll explain what the Hook Book Cook formula is and how to use it to make your query letter stand out.
Here is the query letter formula Hook Book Cook explained for beginners.
What Is the Query Letter Formula Hook Book Cook? (Overview)
The Hook Book Cook formula is a simple three-part structure for writing a query letter.
Here are the three parts:
- Hook – The hook is the initial sentence or two that captures the reader’s interest and encourages them to continue reading. It is designed to be attention-grabbing, thought-provoking, and memorable.
- Book – The book is a brief summary of your manuscript that highlights its unique selling points.
- Cook – The cook is a brief bio about yourself and your writing credentials.
This formula is popular because it helps you structure your query letter in a way that is easy to read and understand.
It also helps you focus on the most important aspects of your manuscript and your writing career.
That’s the surface-level explanation of the formula.
Now, let’s go deeper so that you know exactly how to apply the formula to your book or novel.
Hook (Definition and Tips)
The hook is the most important part of your query letter because, without it, an agent may not even read the rest of your query letter.
Your hook should be concise and attention-grabbing, and it should highlight the most unique and interesting aspect of your manuscript.
Here are some tips for writing a strong hook:
- Start with a question or a bold statement that will pique the reader’s curiosity.
- Use descriptive language and vivid imagery to create a strong mental picture.
- Keep it short and sweet – one or two sentences at most.
Remember, your hook is the first thing the reader will see, so make it count.
To learn more about hooks, I wrote an entire article all about how to write a query letter hook (with tons of examples). The link is at the bottom of this post.
Book (Definition and Tips)
The book section of your query letter is an opportunity to provide a concise overview of your manuscript.
This section should be focused on the unique selling points of your book, such as the genre, plot, and characters. You should also highlight any awards or accolades your book has received.
Here are some tips for writing a strong book section:
- Keep it brief – no more than 1-3 paragraphs with three or four sentences in each paragraph.
- Focus on the most important and unique aspects of your book.
- Use strong, descriptive language to create a sense of urgency and excitement.
- Think of this section as a less salesly back cover book blurb.
Remember, the goal of the book section is to entice the reader to want to know more about your manuscript.
Cook (Definition and Tips)
The cook section of your query letter is where you provide a brief bio about yourself and your writing credentials.
Put a spotlight on your writing experience, including any published works, writing workshops or degrees, and any other relevant experience.
Here are some tips for writing a strong cook section:
- This section is optional (we don’t all have credentials and that’s ok).
- Focus on professional writing credentials and experience (leave everything else out).
- Use vivid verbs and nouns to highlight your achievements.
- Don’t brag, lie, or exaggerate.
Remember, the cook section is not the most important part of your query letter, but it’s still important to showcase your writing experience and credentials.
It’s also just as Ok to skip this bio section.
For a quick summary of this information, I made this video about the query letter formula Hook Book Cook:
Examples of the Hook Book Cook Query Letter Formula
Here are some examples of the Hook Book Cook formula in action:
Example 1: Romance
Dear [Agent’s Name],
I am excited to submit my debut romance novel, [Book Title], for your consideration. In this steamy and empowering tale, [Main Character] is a successful businesswoman who’s used to calling the shots. But when she meets [Love Interest], a charming and handsome man who’s not afraid to challenge her, she finds herself drawn to him in ways she never expected.
As their relationship heats up, [Main Character] must confront her own fears and insecurities, and learn to trust in love again. But with [Love Interest] harboring secrets of his own, their relationship is threatened by misunderstandings, betrayal, and unexpected obstacles. Can [Main Character] and [Love Interest] overcome their differences and build a future together, or will their passion flame out before it has a chance to catch fire?
[Book Title] is a fast-paced and emotionally rich novel that explores themes of love, trust, and empowerment. With well-developed characters, witty dialogue, and steamy romance, it is sure to appeal to fans of the genre.
I am a freelance writer with a degree in creative writing from [University Name]. My work has been featured in [Publication Name], [Publication Name], and [Publication Name].
Thank you for considering my manuscript.
Example 2: Romance
Dear [Agent’s Name],
I am submiting my debut romance novel, [Book Title], for your consideration. When [Main Character] meets [Love Interest] at a charity event, she never expects to fall for him – especially since she’s already engaged. But as their friendship deepens and sparks fly, [Main Character] must decide between following her heart and staying true to her commitments.
[Book Title] is a heartwarming tale of love, loss, and second chances. With its engaging characters, witty dialogue, and steamy romance, it is sure to captivate readers of the genre.
I am a freelance writer with a degree in creative writing from [University Name]. My work has been featured in [Publication Name], [Publication Name], and [Publication Name]. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Example 3: Children’s Book
Dear [Agent’s Name],
Have you ever wondered what life would be like if humans could communicate with animals? [Book Title] explores this fascinating concept in a heartwarming tale about a young girl who discovers she can talk to her dog. With a unique blend of humor, heart, and adventure, [Book Title] is perfect for readers of all ages.
Please find the entire completed manuscript pasted below this email.
Example 4: Fantasy
Dear [Agent’s Name],
I am seeking representation for my fantasy novel, [Book Title], for your consideration. In a world where magic is forbidden, [Main Character] discovers she has the power to control the elements. With the help of a mysterious stranger, she sets out to overthrow the tyrannical government and restore magic to the land.
[Book Title] is a thrilling adventure filled with action, suspense, and magic. Its unique world-building, complex characters, and the fast-paced plot will appeal to fans of the genre.
I am a full-time writer with several published short stories in [Publication Name]. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Example 5: YA Sci-Fi
Dear [Agent’s Name],
I am thrilled to submit my debut novel, [Book Title], for your consideration. In this sci-fi adventure, the main character, Max, wakes up one day to discover that his life is just a video game. As he navigates a virtual world filled with danger and excitement, Max must figure out how to win the game and save his own life before time runs out.
The story follows Max as he explores the video game world and meets other players, some of whom become his allies, while others become his enemies. Max’s ultimate goal is to reach the end of the game and defeat the final boss, who holds the key to his escape from the game world. Along the way, Max faces numerous challenges and obstacles, including powerful enemies, tricky puzzles, and difficult terrain.
At the heart of the story is Max’s struggle to come to terms with his new reality and find a way to survive in the game world.
Thank you for your consideration.
Example 6: Mystery
Dear [Agent’s Name],
I am submitting my mystery novel, [Book Title], for your consideration. In the small town of Clearwater, the murder of local philanthropist, Richard Banks, sends shockwaves through the community. Suspicions run high as the police investigate a string of suspects, each with their own motive for wanting Banks dead.
Enter [Main Character], an amateur sleuth with a nose for trouble. When her best friend becomes a suspect in the case, [Main Character] embarks on her own investigation, determined to clear her friend’s name and find the real killer.
As she delves deeper into the case, [Main Character] uncovers a web of deceit and betrayal that threatens to tear the town apart. With time running out and the killer still at large, [Main Character] must use all her skills to unmask the culprit and bring them to justice before they strike again.
I am an award-winning author with several published novels, including [Title 1], [Title 2], and [Title 3]. My work has been featured in [Publication Name] and [Publication Name].
These examples demonstrate how the Hook Book Cook formula can be used across different genres and writing styles. By focusing on the most important aspects of your manuscript and your writing experience, you can craft a query letter that stands out from the rest.
Why Is the Hook Book Cook Formula Effective?
The Hook Book Cook formula is an effective way to structure your query letter because it focuses on the most important aspects of your manuscript and your writing career.
In other words, you lead with your strengths.
By using this formula, you also follow a standard and expected format in the industry. A query letter is not the place to be cute with the format.
Another reason why the Hook Book Cook formula is effective is that it’s easy to read and understand.
Literary agents and publishers receive hundreds of query letters each day, so it’s important to make yours stand out.
By using a clear and concise structure like the Hook Book Cook formula, you can make it easier for the reader to quickly understand what your book is about and why it’s worth considering.
Finally, the Hook Book Cook formula is effective because it can be tailored to different genres and styles.
Whether you’re writing a romance novel, a thriller, or a non-fiction book, you can use the Hook Book Cook formula to highlight the most unique and compelling aspects of your work.
By focusing on what sets your book apart from others in the same genre or category, you can increase your chances of catching the reader’s attention.
How Does the Hook Book Cook Formula Differ From Other Query Letter Structures?
There are many different structures and templates for writing a query letter.
The Hook Book Cook formula is unique in that it focuses on three key elements: the hook, the book, and the cook. Other query letter structures may focus on different elements or order them differently.
For example, some query letter structures may start with a brief introduction or synopsis of the book, followed by a brief bio about the author.
Others may focus more heavily on the author’s writing credentials, with less emphasis on the book itself.
The Hook Book Cook formula is different because it prioritizes the hook – the introductory sentence or two that immediately captures the reader’s attention and compels them to read further.
By launching right into a strong hook, you can immediately capture the reader’s interest and make them curious about your book.
Another way the Hook Book Cook formula differs from other query letter structures is that it keeps the book section brief and focused on the most important and unique aspects of your manuscript.
This is important because literary agents and publishers receive hundreds of query letters each day and don’t have time to read lengthy synopses.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Hook Book Cook Formula
While the Hook Book Cook formula is a useful structure for writing a query letter, there are some common mistakes that writers should avoid.
Here are a few to keep in mind:
- Don’t be too vague in your hook. Your hook should be attention-grabbing, but it should also give the reader a sense of what your book is about. Avoid using cliches or generic statements that don’t tell the reader anything specific about your book.
- Don’t include too much information in your book section. The book section should be brief and focused on the most unique and compelling aspects of your manuscript. Avoid including unnecessary details or subplots that don’t contribute to the overall story.
- Don’t oversell yourself in the cook section. While it’s important to showcase your writing experience and credentials, don’t exaggerate or make false claims. Be honest about your achievements and experience, and let your writing speak for itself.
By avoiding these common mistakes, you can use the Hook Book Cook formula to write a query letter that effectively showcases your book and your writing skills.
Final Thoughts: Query Letter Formula Hook Book Cook
Having studied query letters for 20 years, I love this formula.
It’s simple, strategic, and proven successful over and over again. Sure, there are additional query letter “tricks” but this is a great primer for understanding the mechanics of querying.
Two resources I recommend are Jasper AI (to help write query letters) and my book, Query Letter Swipe File: Exact Words, Phrases and Templates to Write Query Letters, Get Literary Agents, and Publish Books for Life.
For even more insights about query letters, check out these articles: